MarketWatch poll results presented at forum on Syria; 'Peace with Syria would
disband Iran-Syria alliance' says MK Avital
Yaakov Lappin Published: 11.26.06, 21:34
A majority of Israelis - 58 percent - think Syria's offer to hold peace talks
should be accepted, according to a poll conducted by the Culture Department of
The findings were presented Sunday evening at a Tel Aviv panel of politicians
and academics, the majority of who called on the Israeli government to
seriously examine Syria's offer to commence peace talks.
According to the same poll, 64 percent of Israelis are unwilling to give up
the Golan Heights in exchange for peace with Syria .
In the survey, a majority of Israelis (59 percent) said they believed war
would break out if there was no peace initiative with Syria.
Addressing the panel, Knesset Member Colette Avital said: "If there is an
axis of evil, why not try to take it apart?" Avital added she believed there
was a genuine Syrian will to hold peace talks.
"There is an urgent need to talk to Syria," she said, adding that a peace with
Damascus is crucial for "stabilizing the north, and coming to a cold or hot
arrangement with Lebanon ."
'Offer is tempting'
Professor Eyal Zisser, a researcher at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle
Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University ,described Syria's peace
talks offer as "very tempting."
"He (Assad) is saying, I'm not Nasrallah . I'm not Iran. I'm not seeking
Israel's destruction," Zisser added.
But Dr. Mordechai Kedar, of Bar Ilan University's Begin-Sadat Center for
Strategic Studies, shattered the panel's optimistic consensus, saying: "There
is a new bloc rising, based on hatred of the United States, and on (Russian)
military aid. Iran's nuclear core is Russian, Iran's submarines are Russian,
Syria's weapons are Russian. Syria is an honorary member of this group."
Kedar asked: "Are those advocating peace with Syria basing their calls on a
change in the Syrian orientation towards the West, like Egypt has done? Are
there any known contacts between Assad and anyone in the West, suggesting any
kind of similarity with what Sadat did? "
'You don't make peace with friends'
Responding to Kedar, Professor Yoram Peri, of the Herzog Institute for Media
Politics and Society at Tel Aviv University, said: "Of course Syria is an
enemy. With whom do you make peace? Not with your friend, but with your
Quoting the book 'Generals in the Cabinet Room,' Kedar said: "I found an
amazing thing: The IDF warmly recommends that we go for a peace process with
Israel, and to accept a large part of the Syrian territorial demands. Since
2000 until today, the chiefs of staff and heads of intelligence support a
peace agreement with Syria. They are supporting an agreement which has almost
been signed. An agreement Israel retreated from."
Quoting a conversation with former chief of staff Moshe (Boogi) Yaalon, Peri
said: "He clearly said, unequivocally, that an agreement with Syria would take
one month to conclude, and that an agreement with Lebanon would take another
two weeks after that and he's considered hawkish, the man who didn't want to
withdraw from Gaza."
"And then I ask myself, why doesn't the Israeli public know these things? Why
doesn't this appear in the newspapers? We live in lies, spins, things aren't
known. Who among you was excited when the Syrian ambassador to the US gave an
interview in Yedioth Ahronoth, in which said he wanted peace three months ago?
This happens everyday."
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